Straight Face, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Very sadly, Nigel Hawthorne died on Boxing Day 2001. He had just completed his exceptional autobiography about a life which had by no means taken a straight path. His ambitions to be an actor when a young man in South Africa were strongly discouraged by his father. He came to England alone and struggled for many years to make his name - eventually joining the Royal Court, starring in the West End, and finally having his great TV break in Yes, Minister.

He also struggled with his sexuality and it was not until meeting production manager Trevor Bentham in l977 that he finally found his life partner. A naturally private man, his media 'outing' in the run-up to the Oscar Ceremony for The Madness of King George was the source of much pain, although ultimately it became a liberation.

At the peak of his career he was struck by cancer and his battle with illness forms a moving final section of the book.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, 16 pp b/w photographs
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Individual actors & performers
  • ISBN: 9780340769430



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This is an unusually well-written autobiography, and one is left feeling rather sad that Hawthorne died before he could read the excellent reviews it attracted in the press and from readers.He takes time and care over the childhood sections, something too many actors gloss over, and paints a fascinating picture of the young man he grew to be. Moving from South Africa, where he'd spent his early years, to Britain, at the end of his teens, he strikes a good balance between emotions and facts, skipping over some details ....but evoking a strong sense of the person he was. Similarly he doesn't dwell overly on his most famous roles (Sir Humphrey Appleby, for instance) but has some interesting insights into the arts of acting, directing, and writing. I was intrigued to find that "Father and Son", the Cat Stevens song covered by Boyzone, came from a musical Stevens and Hawthorne were collaborating on!This book contains an unconventional love story (not just because Hawthorne was gay and not "out" for most of his life, but because he lived in a truly complicated domestic tangle that took some years to resolve), a heartwarming account of finally finding happiness, and some very funny, interesting or otherwise worthwhile stories about a well-loved actor who adored his chosen career.

Also by Nigel Hawthorne